How to Lay Off a Remote Worker Gracefully
We all know that getting fired from a job is a jarring experience for the employee, manager, and colleagues who were spared. And now we have a new wrinkle to add to the mix which can make the process even more difficult: firing a remote worker.
According to Rebecca Deczynski, a staff reporter at Inc., “Handle it poorly and you’re liable not only to upset laid-off employees, but also generate fear and anxiety amongst your remaining workforce. And the result, especially for larger companies, may take a toll on the public perception of your brand.”
So, what’s the best way to handle it? Deczynski has several tips:
- Prepare Thoroughly. The stakeholders behind a termination – which typically includes HR, legal, and management – need to establish a thorough, competent plan for layoffs. Decide who will deliver the news to employees and give a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the termination.
- Have a One-on-One Conversation. In a remote setting, this means scheduling a video call that is compassionate. Thank the employee for their contributions and explain why their termination is necessary. Then share offboarding and severance details. This meeting should last 10 minutes and the employee should be given the chance to ask questions.
- Coordinate Timing Carefully. Hold a virtual all-hands or team meeting with remaining colleagues immediately following any one-on-one conversations with terminated employees. During this meeting you will explain the situation and take questions. During that conversation or shortly after, remove employees from any technology tied to their employment.
- Show Support. The best thing employers can do for terminated employees is to help them minimize their period of unemployment, which means offering a healthy severance package, career counseling, and outplacement help. And make sure they have a way of contacting anyone within the company they may need to reach after their termination.
Jill, What Can I Do? I’m sharing Deczynski’s advice because I think it’s a great template to follow if you need to terminate a remote worker. I also think much of this advice is transferrable to on-site employees (with the exception of scheduling a video call). In order to have a great culture, you must have the right person in every chair. For that reason, terminations are inevitable. But now you have a roadmap for managing outgoing employee with grace and compassion.